By Joan Spindel
It seems every week there’s a new blog, case study or webinar touting the importance of social media for nurturing customer relationships and promising the keys to social media success. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? It is, but it can also be easy to bite off more than you can chew. Social media is a great platform for conversations with customers—and just like a conversation offline, its important to let it build incrementally. You can create your social media strategy with this same “bite-sized” mindset.
To successfully connect and communicate with customers over social media you need three things: a platform, time to invest, and something compelling to say that you want people to respond to. The goal is a conversation and you need to be willing to speak, listen, respond.
Pick a platform.
The secret to starting social media is focus. Choose one platform where you know your audience engages. I recommend Twitter or LinkedIn for B2B networking. You may also want to check out social relationship management tools like Hootsuite or Buffer, which make it easy to bulk upload content and provide reporting metrics.
Invest in its success.
Many people’s attitude toward social media is “Have a page and the fans will come.” The truth is, the more time you invest, the more thoughtful your content, the more proactive you are in probing for feedback, the more successful your efforts will be. Writing posts, scheduling, responding to comments, tracking the readership and response rates to measure engagement from your audience—these all take time. Figure out how much time you’re going to invest and set realistic goals based on that time.
Here’s a time-saver tip: Don’t plan on creating all the content yourself. Curate content from trusted sources to deliver to your audience. Hootsuite recommends the following rule of thirds for social media content:
- 1/3 promotes the business
- 1/3 shares ideas from industry leaders
- 1/3 personal interactions
Plan your messaging.
The biggest question is the one I suspect most of us give the least amount of thought toward: What do you want to say? What impact do you want to have on your customers? Resist the urge to treat social as an advertising channel: You don’t go on social media to look at ads, and neither do your customers.
Or you may spend so much time thinking about what you want to say—and how it may go wrong—that you become paralyzed. It’s okay; remember that people generally want to engage in conversations. You can get started by answering these questions with as many ideas as you can:
- What do you want to know about your customers?
- How will you respond to the insights customers share?
- How does this fuel the ongoing conversation and strengthen the relationship?
Once you know what you want to talk about, craft your content so it can be delivered in easy-to-consume, “snackable” messages that build upon each other. It’s a good idea to plan not only how you’re going to roll out your messages, but also what the anticipated audience reaction is and how your company will respond. Think in terms of a conversation: Speak, listen, respond.
To recap, here’s my version of a super-simple, but totally manageable social media strategy:
- Choose one platform.
- Determine what you want to talk about.
- Speak, listen, respond.
- Measure results
I realize that we only touched on measurement. Most tools have tracking capabilities to make this step easier, but determining which measurements matter and how best to track them is a critical part of the strategy. Measurement requires a blog in and of itself which we will post soon.
Have you tried social media marketing for your business? What struggles or achievements did you experience? What do you wish you’d known before you started? Share your story in the comments!
About Joan Spindel: As the chief go-to-market strategist for Westcon-Comstor, Joan Spindel engages our customers in genuine, empathetic conversations and then translates their needs into compelling market development initiatives. She believes there has never been a better time to listen and lead in marketing.